Winter Family – self-titled (Sub Rosa/Fuse)


Israeli artist Ruth Rosenthal and French musician Xavier Klaine stare straight into sheaves of concrete poetry that look like pools of water shimmer, which bisect the flow of augmented duration organ chords and somber piano motifs. Rosenthal’ elliptical narrative, which is sung and spoken in english and hebrew, is an insistent stream of innuendo’s and confessions that is as nauseating as it is hypnotic. Over two discs, the cadence and pulse of pieces is suggestive of the dull throbbing of temples. ‘Psaume’ focusses on the billowing glide of piano passages that gently tumble into massed clouds with luminous tones and aching loops.

There is a definite commitment to a form seldom seen; stern, poetic, and clearly embedded in a gothic tradition, certain spaces still do gravitate towards an unhinged psychic space. This space knows many forms: ‘So Soon’ enjoys a restricted palette of leaden classical hues; others brim with a playful exuberance, with ripples and trills emergent with life; while on yet others, the signature austerity is blown up, rendered grandiose, with protracted metallic clang and dense vibrational patterns dipped in abject torpor. When the tension of these latter pieces reaches an exhilarating critical mass, it becomes less coherent, overtly self-indulgent. Owing to its length, furthermore, many movements are left undeveloped, incomplete, their clumsy structures and unspecified chilliness lessens the impact of the other elegant lullabies, packed with the odd effervescent flourish.

Although the pair sketches a music that is often characterized by a slow creeping, and though they confine themselves to piano, organ, and harmonium, they move too fast and seem inundated by choices. Clearly, such a project is in need of time for refinement. All the same, it remains a dense mazelike formation whose corners make for a mysterious and evocative atmosphere.

Max Schaefer


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